Cryptocurrencies have seen a massive surge in popularity and behind these new virtual currencies is an innovative technology called the blockchain: a distributed digital ledger in which cryptocurrency transactions are recorded after having been verified. The transactions within a ledger are verified by multiple clients or “validators,” within the cryptocurrency's peer-to-peer network using one of many varied consensus algorithms for resolving the problem of reliability in a network involving multiple unreliable nodes. The most widely used consensus algorithms are the Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm and the Proof of Stake (PoS) algorithm; however, there are also other consensus algorithms which utilize alternative implementations of PoW and PoS, as well as other hybrid implementations and some altogether new consensus strategies. In this paper, we perform a comparative analysis of typical consensus algorithms and some of their contemporaries that are currently in use in modern blockchains. Our analysis focuses on the algorithmic steps taken by each consensus algorithm, the scalability of the algorithm, the method the algorithm rewards validators for their time spent verifying blocks, and the security risks present within the algorithm. Finally, we present our conclusion and some possible future trends for consensus algorithms used in blockchains.
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